Michael Fischa Day: Rice Girl (2014)

So, if you’ve been keeping track during our two-day, end of the week tribute to the career of writer and director Micheal Fischa, you know it all began in 1989 with My Mom’s a Werewolf (an oft-programmed Mill Creek box set flick) — and ends nine films later with, well . . . I know . . . one look at the cover and I was offended as well. And you read that right: Pat Morita and Martin Kove star in this. And Ian Lithgow is, in fact, related to the more famous John: it’s his son (he graduated from Harvard and ends up in Rice Girl, wow: only in Hollywood; which proves everyone — regardless of their thespian training — has to start somewhere). And keeping that sibling-related less-famous-actor thing going, we have Martin Sheen’s younger brother, perpetual B-Movie stalwart, Joe Estevez (300-credits strong; he’s in Rollergator).

Is The Karate Kid connection whetting your appetite for a heaping bowl of rice?

Yeah, we thought so.

Cheryl “Cat” Ling — no relation to anyone and in her feature film, leading lady debut — is Windy Yee, a dimwitted actress pining for a leading role in director Martini’s (Dean Haglund of FOX-TV’s The X-Files) new movie, Hooker X. Of course, when you’re vying for the role of a hooker in a comedy — and your acting coach advised you to “go method” — there must be a case of mistaken identity. To that end, we have Martin Kove and Ian Lithgow as two undercover detectives who mistake her for a real hooker. Then their “sting operation” goes bad and they get their asses kicked by Pat Morita’s mobster. More comedic adventures, as we say at B&S About Movies, when we want to wrap up a review, ensues with an Iraqi warlord, a Hollywood Madam, and a 300-pound wrestler: the feared “Meathead.”

But guess what? There’s actually a pretty decent screwball comedy (it features a talking goldfish that serves as Cat’s “guardian angel,” so there’s that) under that awful cover and pseudo-offensive title. Lithgrow, who we kidded about going to Harvard and being in this, is actually adept at comedy. That’s not to say Rice Girl doesn’t have its moments of cringe in the thespian, scribin’, and directorial realms thanks to the ubiquitous low-budget — and the thick slices of ham flippin’ and floppin’ everywhere — but at least Micheal Fischa is trying at calling out the tropes of Asian stereotypes in Hollywood. And the parody songs “Sticky Rice” and “Marlin Man” sung by the game Ling are pretty funny, too.

You can watch Rice Girl as a free-with-ads stream on Tubi.

This just in: Turns out Rice Girl is no longer Micheal Fischa’s final movie. He’s completed a horror film, Hopped Up. However, according to the digital content warriors over at the IMDb, that film’s been completed since 2013. But it’s shot in Austria and in German, so, perhaps the film was released across Europe and it just never found a domestic, stateside release.

But we did find this theatrical one-sheet and a February 4, 2019 uploaded trailer — that’s in German with English subtitles. And from what you can see — Hopped Up is well-shot and looks really, really good — with one of our rehabbin’ campers having her head forced under a drill press, along with drugged-enduced zombies. So keep your eyes open for it and keep abreast at PrincFilms’ official website. There’s more at the film’s official Facebook page — which hasn’t been updated since 2014.

Now what’s interesting is that Michael Fischa also has a 2013-issued film — also Austrian-shot and in German — a horror effort called White Screech. And it has the same actresses/cast as Hopped Up. So, did Fischa direct these two films — written by Frederik Fussel (nine movies in post) — as part of a back-to-back package deal? Or are White Screech and Hopped Up the same movie — with alternate-cum-rebooted titles? If you know your Euro-cinema: when films cross an ocean, they are gussied up with new art work and titles.

I love a good film mystery! Don’t you?

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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